Friday, August 16, 2013

Life is Fragile; Don't Postpone It

People in Silicon Valley are unusually likely to believe themselves immortal.  Literally.  Whether it's cryogenic preservation or the uploading of consciousness, we go so far as to deny death's inexorability--at least for us.

I'm sympathetic, since I'm terrified of death--my children all know that my fond wish is to be put into a robot body when I grow old.  But denying death keeps us from living the lives we might wish, thinking that there's always more time.  "After my liquidity event," is an all too common phrase.

Recently, I was struck by two news stories that hammered home the fragility of life.  First, Ilya Segalovich, the co-founder of Yandex, died of cancer at age 48:

Then, I saw that Sam Simon, 58, winner of 9 Emmy awards and the co-creator of "The Simpsons," was dying of colon cancer, and had pledged his TV fortune to good causes:

These are/were two eloquent, brilliant, generous, well-liked men, who might have had decades more to do great things.

The same year he founded Yandex, Segalovich founded a charity to help orphans. "I would like some kind of miracle, a magic time wand, and for all orphans to be taken into families. For this invention I would pay any amount of money," he said.

"The truth is, I have more money than I'm interested in spending," Simon told The Hollywood Reporter. "Everyone in my family is taken care of. And I enjoy this."

Entrepreneurs are all about the future.  They have a vision they're willing to sacrifice to achieve.  But I want you to remember that no amount of success, fame, wealth, or good works can immunize you against tragedy.  You can't always count on the long-term.

Build your company, but don't postpone your life.

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